Time and time again, as professionals, we’re told by other professionals that we need to have an elevator pitch. We’re told that elevator pitches will help us let our potential clients know what we do. And we’re told that we’ll gain more clients if we can just sum up everything we do into a well-crafted pitch.

The trouble is, nobody likes pitches. Nobody likes being blatantly sold to. Nobody likes being bombarded with industry-specific buzzwords.

When someone asks what you do, they’re not looking for a formulaic response. They want to hear about how you can solve their problems. They want to hear about how what you’re selling can truly benefit them. They want to know whether or not what you’re selling is relevant to the problems they’re trying to solve. In other words, they want a message tailored to their particular situation, not a canned response.

When a prospect asks you “What do you do,” they want to know that you get it. Really get it.

So if elevator pitches are so bad, what should you do instead?

Wait for it …

You should have a conversation with your prospect.

Prospects are people, and they have needs. If you as a business person treat a prospect as though they’re nothing more than a source of income, or a stepping stone on some sort of ladder to success, then you don’t deserve their custom. And by hitting them with an elevator pitch, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

By using an elevator pitch as opposed to a conversation that involves back-and-forth and a whole lot of listening, you’re treating your prospect like a one-night stand. You’re telling your prospect that they have no more value.

And if your prospect sees that you don’t value them, they’ll return the favor.

If you don’t value them, then they won’t value you. And that means they won’t be your client. They’ll have no interest in taking your relationship any further than that networking event or converence.

So the next time you’re tempted to spout off an elevator pitch, try striking up a conversation instead. Spend some time listening and answering questions so you can determine what your prospect’s needs are. Then, you can determine whether or not you can serve their needs. You might not land that particular client right now, but by having a conversation instead of delivering a pitch, you’re opening the door to a relationship which will bear fruit down the road. And you’ll develop a reputation for not being a sleezy salesperson while still selling. Everybody wins.


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